By Trent Friedel, exclusive to the Times
Saint Mary’s took to the road for the second week in a row to face a district opponent. The foe this week was cross river rival Montgomery who entered the game coming off a loss to a tough Logansport team. Montgomery won the toss but elected to defer to the second half and allowed Saint Mary’s to have the ball first. The visiting Tigers take full advantage of receiving the ball first and drive to score on a short one yard run in by Bankston. The point after off the toe of Rodriguez is good and Saint Mary’s is on the board with seven points having chewed up almost half of the quarter on the drive. Coach Stephen Wren’s defense is unyielding in its first series against the home Tigers. They force a third and long and Matthew Thibodaux comes up big with a sack of Logan Graves at the Montgomery 40. After the punt, Saint Mary’s threatens to score again on a long pass from Bankston to Gallien but they cannot connect. Saint Mary’s punts to Montgomery and the home Tigers go three and out. Saint Mary’s receives the ball at their 46 and the first play from scrimmage is a touchdown run. Hold on, not so fast.
The play is called back for a holding call and the first quarter ends with Saint Mary’s dominating time of possession. The visiting Tigers are unable to keep the drive alive and punt to Montgomery. Logan Graves finds Mikel Auge streaking down the home sideline and hit him in stride for a 67 yard touchdown pass. The running point after fails and the score is SMH 7 – Montgomery 6.
The ensuing kick has Saint Mary’s return the ball to the 45 and advance just across midfield before punting and pinning Montgomery deep. Graves orchestrates a drive to the Saint Mary’s 40 yard-line before being penalized. Saint Mary’s sacks Graves on the next play setting up third and long and they are forced to punt on the next play. Saint Mary’s advances across midfield and is added next by back to back penalties. The drive stalls at the 10 and Saint Mary’s turns the ball over on downs with no point to show for the drive. Montgomery is added by an egregious call on first down. The Saint Mary’s defense is penalized for pass interference on a ball that is thrown 10 yards beyond the intended receiver and clearly not catchable. Two plays later, lightening strikes in an unlikely fashion. Graves connects with Turner for the same 67 yard touchdown pass along the home sideline with under a minute on the first half clock. Lashley adds the two point conversion running the ball and Montgomery takes a 14 – 7 lead.
Saint Mary’s intercepts a pass from Graves as time expires in the half. Montgomery holds the lead going into the locker room. The third quarter would be rather unremarkable in scoring as both teams struggled to move the ball. Saint Mary’s did return the first punt of the quarter to the Montgomery five but the return was negated on a block in the back call. It would be midway through the fourth quarter before points would be added to the scoreboard. Saint Mary’s looked as though they had a safety against Montgomery early in the period. The ensuing possession started on the Montgomery 36. At the 6:17 mark, Bankston culminates the Saint Mary’s drive with a five-yard run to score. The Haitian sensation remains perfect on PAT tries and the score is tied at 14 each.
Ladies and gentlemen, here is where things get tense and interesting. Montgomery scores with 3 minutes and change in the quarter on a Graves five-yard touchdown run. The follow on two-point conversion is good on a pass from Graves to Auge. The score is Montgomery 22, SMH 14 with time ticking away in the final period of play. It doesn’t take long (two plays) for Bankston to answer with a 34-yard pass to Jasen Elie who runs in for the score. Bankston runs in the two-point attempt to tie things up again.
The score stands at 22 a piece with 2:56 to go in regulation play. Montgomery has the ball and a chance with minimal time and the ball on their 45. They advance to the Saint Mary’s 20 and turn the ball over on downs. Enter overtime.
This cross-river rivalry comes down to extra play as each team has laid it on the line for a victory. The Saint Mary’s Tigers win the overtime coin toss and exercise conventional wisdom. They elect to let Montgomery take the ball first. That way they know what they need to either tie or win outright. On third down Graves connects with Aston Randell in the back corner of the endzone for the score. The point after attempt fails. Now it is up to Saint Mary’s to try and score. A touchdown and extra point will seal the victory as the deficit is only six points.
But you must get it into the endzone. First down, Bankston rolls right passes to the end zone, incomplete. Second down, Bankston runs off right tackle gain of three. Third down, Bankston rolls left, open receiver tracking in the middle of the end zone, the pass is just off his fingertips, incomplete. Fourth down, hope is fading; one play remains to secure a touchdown. Bankston takes the snap from center, rolls right, has time and a potential receiver in the end zone, (HOPE) incomplete pass and game is over. Hope and dreams dashed in a disappointing loss to Montgomery.
Saint Mary’s will have to dig deep to play Loyola after such a disappointing loss. They return home Thursday evening to host the Flyers and want to get some payback for two homecoming losses to the Tigers.
The remaining schedule will certainly test this re-building Tiger team. They will travel to North Webster, then have two games at home to finish the season. Of important note, the Northwood Lena game will be at the school Friday, Oct. 26. It will be an historic first ever regular season game on the grounds of Saint Mary’s.